Forth Valley’s 16 Days of Activism programme was launched at Forth Valley College’s Falkirk Campus on Friday 25 November.
The timing of the event also marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The engaging event included speakers from across the three Forth Valley local authorities – Falkirk, Stirling and Alloa - and an exhibition and workshop from artist and sexual violence survivor Jacqueline MacKenzie. This launch event was followed by a Reclaim the Night march to The Kelpies which were lit up orange, the official colour of 16DOA 2022.
The event began with talks from some of the key figures in the Forth Valley Region who spoke of their commitment to ending GBV in our local community.
Anna Vogt, Head of Inclusion and Student Services at Forth Valley College, who opened the event, said: “It’s so heartening to see so many colleagues from across Forth Valley coming together to support a commitment to ending Gender Based Violence. The College plays a key role in supporting our staff and students to understand the impact of GBV and the role that they play in ending GBV altogether. We are proud to host the launch of the Forth Valley 16 DOA event and to continue to build up a network across the region that can work in tandem towards a common goal.”
The audience was also addressed by Councillor Stacey Devine from Falkirk Council, who spoke of her efforts alongside key partners such as Police Scotland to work to protect victims of GBV. Bryony Monaghan, Head of Education and Chief Education Officer at Stirling Council, and Lorraine Sanda, Strategic Director of People at Clackmannanshire Council, each spoke of their commitment to stamping out domestic violence within their respective Local Authority areas and detailed some of the initiatives that they have put in place to further this goal. Finally, Angela Barron, Chief Executive Officer at Forth Valley Rape Crisis, outlined the services the charity offers, and expressed a hope that one day GBV would be as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
The rest of the event was dedicated to the exhibition of art from Highland artist Jacqueline Mackenzie, whose artwork focuses on the emotional impact of sexual violence on the survivor. Jacqueline displayed six pieces of her artwork around the room and presented the audience with an opportunity to view and reflect on the pieces. This prompted a fruitful discussion through which the audience demonstrated their deep connection to their material and the evocative topic.
As well as Jacqueline’s artwork, a piece created by David Gentles, lecturer, and a class of HNC Early Education and Childcare students from Forth Valley College, was on display outside the exhibition room. This striking piece showed a mannequin wearing a white dress and carrying a parasol emblazoned with messages of support against domestic violence and carrying some of the key messages of the 16DOA agenda.
The event was well attended by people of all ages and genders, from various organisations across the Forth Valley region and beyond who united to pledge to do the best they can to address GBV on our doorstep. The theme of 16DOA this year is “unite”, and this event demonstrated that very unity of people gathering together to hear the testimonies of survivors of gender based violence, and commit to helping women feel safe in their own families, workplaces, and communities.
Article written by FVC’s Diversity Coordinator Chloe Gardner, who also took the photos on the day.